Given the headlines about Vanity Fair’s first cover to be shot by a Black photographer, and what ought to be a genuine push to diversify creative voices in every industry, it’s noteworthy and excellent that a huge percentage of the team for this Town & Country cover is Black: the photographers, Ahmad Barber and Donte Maurice; the stylist, Law Roach; the designer of the gown, Carly Cushnie; the article author, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, an associate prof at Harvard among other things; and the hairstylist, Takisha Sturdivant-Drew. Takisha noted on her Instagram that this was her first virtual cover shoot, and Kerry wrote that Takisha and makeup artist Carola Gonzalez guided her through this look on FaceTime. That is… amazing, honestly. You could tell me to do any number of things with my face and hair via the Internet and I would mangle it. Kerry looks luminous, and the drape of the gown as cropped here is really cool — with her pose, it gives the photo a real fluidity — but the actual photo chosen for the cover isn’t my favorite of the batch. There’s a slight disconnect in her eyes. It’s… a bit ocularly flat? Especially when you compare it to this one:
That outfit is Chanel, and while it’s goofy — in that scalloped, tweedy, business-impractical Chanel way — she is carrying the hell out of it, and with such a focused and direct expression. I love this one.
The composition of this one is also super:
And as far as the Christopher John Rogers gown goes here…
… it’s killing me that Covid means there are no proper Emmys, because imagine this on the red carpet.
The interview is a lovely read, pinned to the documentary Kerry produced about a group of ACLU lawyers — and, generously, Kerry ceded much of the mic to them. Sarah Elizabeth Lewis interviews all of them together, and Kerry never elbows in to make it about her, ever. You are unlikely to see a celebrity cover story, for example, that includes this exchange — and it’s just a small snippet — between people who are NOT said celebrity:
SEL: Aristotle made a statement that I love: Reason alone is not enough to make men good. It takes more than a rational argument to convince people to move past their blind spots. It takes the empathic work that’s oftentimes done only by culture.
Joshua Block: Right. In the middle of [Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board], the trans case that focused on bathroom litigation, Hidden Figures came out and there’s a scene where [Taraji P. Henson’s character] is like, “There’s no bathroom for me here.” Conveying that the bathroom is about more than the bathroom was one of the hardest things.
Chase Strangio: I totally remember that. Something Sarah, that you said, thinking about photography and film and the lens—like who holds the lens. […] I have a really hard time being photographed as a trans person. The cis lens on the trans person is often a violent lens. And so who is taking the picture, who is telling the story has such a huge impact. And we’re a lens in the courtroom as well. It’s through our lens that we’re telling another person’s story. This whole experience for me has been so positive in part, because there has been an awareness of how the lens operates.
It’s really strong stuff.